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Two Bearded Preachers

Listen as Justin Larkin and Martin Bender talk about everything without researching anything! We discuss life, ministry, and family from a uniquely Christian perspective without getting all preachy. Like the Two Bearded Preachers facebook page and follow us on Instagram @twobeardedpreachers.
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Now displaying: November, 2016

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Nov 25, 2016

It's Thanksgiving and the Two Bearded Preachers are taking a well deserved week off. We didn't want to leave you high and dry, so here is a re-release of our very first episode. It is too long, has terrible editing, and sounds like absolute garbage. We think you'll love it. It will also help you to see how far we've come in putting these things together. So check it out, but we won't be hurt if you decide to keep this one to yourselves. Enjoy.

Nov 17, 2016

How many VCRs should you take when looting an electronics store? Does hand holding lead to baby making? How many days in a row can a man eat steak before it isn't delicious? These and other questions are answered in the latest episode of Two Bearded Preachers! Listen to how Martin and Justin would respond in a protest/riot scenario and hear their traditional Molotov Cocktail recipes. This one is a real barn burner, but kindly remember not to literally burn down any barns. We wouldn't want anyone to be charged with a hate crime against the livestock.

Nov 15, 2016

Martin W. Bender

It’s taken me a while to get through this book. It deals with a subject I’ve not thought terribly deeply on and thus I’ve reread most of the book and probably have gone through the whole thing twice. I can understand the concern for upholding the Classical understanding of God when it is being challenged in both academic and popular writing. It’s certainly a little telling that I’ve not been challenged on the subject in over ninety hours of graduate study. This is an area (theology proper) that deserves more careful consideration from pastors like me as it ultimately effects the ministry I perform.

Closing Comments and Affirmations and Denials by Ronald S. Baines and Charles J. Rennie

Open and Process Theism and the influence they have in today’s theology are the primary cause of the rise of alternative interpretations of divine impassibility. Both these positions hold that God is not atemporal and eternal as he has been classically understood, rather that his nature possesses potentiality regarding creation. Criticism that an impassible God is somehow cold and distant springs from the idea that God’s experience of emotions is the same as man’s. This is a grave error. Man’s emotions are like God’s, but his are not like ours. Both Open and Process Theism fail to properly understand the Creator/creation distinctive and ultimately make God in the image of man: passible.

In this final chapter, there is a list of affirmations and denials that is most helpful. It lists all the positions discussed through the course of the book and succinctly reviews them. For those interested in reading the book, I recommend beginning with the affirmations and denials first to understand the perspective of the writers. I probably would have gotten through the book more quickly had I done so.

I must say; I agree with affirmation 24.

Appendix 1: Charles J. Rennie’s Review of God with Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God by K. Scott Oliphint

I’ve not read Oliphint’s book, but I have enjoyed the articles I’ve seen by him and the interviews I’ve listened to. I’m a little surprised he holds to an alternative view of impassibility. I agree with the review’s criticism that there needn’t be a new theological category created to answer Open and Process Theism as Classical Theism, as it’s been traditionally held, stands up better under criticism and has greater biblical support than today’s alternatives. When the Hellenization criticism is accepted of Classical Theism then it makes sense to attempt an answer that allows for covenant passions, but since that criticism is questionable at best there remains little reason to abandon the biblical and historically supported position.

Appendix 2: James E. Dolezal’s Review of God is Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theology of Divine Emotion by Rob Lister

Unlike Oliphint, I’ve not heard of Lister. That doesn’t mean a whole lot as I’m just beginning to seriously explore Reformed theologians. The review points to the greatest issue I have with passibility or altered views of impassibility, namely, that in any such view God cannot be rightly thought of as atemporally eternal. That might not be a big deal for many people, but once God’s atemporality is removed so too is his eternity, omniscience, omni anything, really. And that’s a problem because the Bible describes God in these ways. Any position that denies God’s perfection in all things must be dismissed as unbiblical and outside Christian thought.

Thoughts

As I put Confessing the Impassible God on the shelf, relegating it to reference use for the foreseeable future, I find myself moving ever closer to becoming confessional. My own theological journey departed from its projected course quite a while ago during post-work conversations at UPS, Bible studies at Arifjan, and in my own kitchen working on papers for school. I’ve gone from refusing to sign a membership card at my church to exploring the historic confessions and finding they are far more consistent theologically than anything I experienced in the non-denominational, anti-creedal world in which I was raised. As I continue to study I set my eye on a monster of text: Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. I can’t believe I’ve been a student of theology this long and still haven’t read what is commonly regarded as the most significant work of the Reformation. Well, it’s the 500th anniversary of old Martin Luther causing a ruckus next year… I better get this bad boy started.

 

Baines, Ronald S., Richard C. Barcellos, James P. Butler, Stefan T. Lindblad, James M. Renihan eds. Confessing the Impassible God: The Biblical, Classical, & Confessional Doctrine of Divine Impassibility. (Palmdale, CA: RBAP, 2015).

Nov 14, 2016

Martin W. Bender

Seeing how the doctrine of impassibility effects both confessional thinking and pastoral ministry is both interesting and helpful to a feller like me. While I’m not confessional in my faith, I am increasingly interested in the history Protestant confessions and how they impact modern theology. As a minister, I am fascinated to see how seemingly distant theological concepts can be applied to practical ministry and everyday life. These two chapters speak to both areas, making them some of my favorites so far in the book.

Confessional Theology and the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility by James M. Renihan

Since this book is written from a confessional Reformed Baptist perspective it is no surprise it contains a chapter exploring the doctrine of impassibility as it exists in the Second London Confession of Faith. The 2LCF is clearly an expression of Christianity that holds to divine impassibility as it has been historically understood. This chapter is quite convincing in articulating how the impassibility of God is a key element in the second chapter of the 2LCF and a fundamental assumption for the confession as a whole. The most relevant phrase describes God as “without body, parts, or passions.”

As a reader who does not hold to a confession, the dispute over the nature of God’s emotional state remains distant. I can certainly see the complaint of the writers of this book as they clearly demonstrate how failing to hold to the traditional understanding of impassibility leads to an inevitable mutability on the part of God. At the same time, I doubt there will be significant problems for apologists created by those who hold to an augmented view. As the book draws toward its conclusion I can see how augmented views on impassibility undermine the way the 2LCF has traditionally been interpreted. Such undermining may impact the viability of the confession in the long term.

Practical Theology and the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility by James P. Butler

Practical theology is where the rubber meets the road for most of us. It is in the chapter on practical theology the doctrine of impassibility is shown to be a great comfort for the believer as all hope is predicated on the belief in God’s eternal reliability. If there is the possibility of change in God’s emotions there remains the possibility that God’s love for his people will wane, or at the very least, has the potential to be greater than what it is at any given moment. This would mean God’s love would at points lack the perfection that seems to be a requirement of an eternal God. When the impassibility of God is denied there is no reasonable assurance to be had by the believer that his promises are applicable individually and therefore, no reasonable hope to be had.

Pastorally, God’s impassibility is a great help to those who are in the midst of trial. The finite nature of mankind means we all will undergo change and have both potentiality and actuality (remember, God only has actuality). When the change we undergo is undesirable to us, the knowledge that our God loves us perfectly in our suffering is quite a blessing. Despite the struggles of the world, those in Christ have confidence in his unchanging nature. Helping fellow Christians to see God’s presence in their distress is a wonderful opportunity to explore the vastness of his love.

Thoughts

As Confessing the Impassible God comes to its conclusion I find myself increasingly interested in the historic confessions. Confessional Christianity isn’t the theme of the book and doesn’t make a case for the reader to adhere to a confession (rather, it assumes adherence), but it does demonstrate how a well thought out and documented confession can point out errors in one’s personal theology. The challenge for those who are less systematic in their faith, like me, is to be consistent while sharpening their positions based upon the Bible. All in Christ have a responsibility to grow in their knowledge and appreciation for him. Exploring the historic confessions is an opportunity to do that very thing.

 

Baines, Ronald S., Richard C. Barcellos, James P. Butler, Stefan T. Lindblad, James M. Renihan eds. Confessing the Impassible God: The Biblical, Classical, & Confessional Doctrine of Divine Impassibility. (Palmdale, CA: RBAP, 2015).

Nov 10, 2016

This just in... the Two Bearded Preachers officially endorse Nathan Fillion for President of the United States of America. Who could be better than the man who tamed the outer planets? In other news, Aladdin is outed as a pervy creeper and Justin cheats on Martin by talking to another preacher. They are able to make amends though as John Morgan is finally able to get Florida to legalize medicinal marijuana. Keep an eye on Justin, he has been having joint problems lately. Oh, they also mention that feller who won the election. What was his name again?

Nov 8, 2016

Martin W. Bender

One of the disagreements Justin and I have is the nature of God’s love for people. Justin is synergistic while I am monergistic. I find God’s love, both for himself and for his creation, to be necessary rather than contingent, while Justin seems to hold that God’s love is contingent upon man’s reaction to God. At least that’s how I interpret the differences between us (I may hear about it later). I think he would benefit from reading the chapter on divine affections as it shows the difference between the God’s love and man’s love.

A Theology of the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility: (II) Impassibility and the Divine Affections by Charles J. Rennie

The doctrine of impassibility states that God does not experience changes in his emotions. How does such a doctrine deal with the notion of God being love? The human understanding of love is unequivocally passible. We talk about falling in and out of love, being in love or not, and loving as a state of progression. God, however, if he is impassible, must be understood to love differently than man. God is love. No person can make such a claim. God’s self-identification as being love reflects the love he has for himself within the Trinity. This love, by nature, is eternal and immutable as it is perfectly held by a perfectly eternal being. What is fascinating is that he also loves his creation.

The love humanity experiences is both like God’s love (in that it is deeply felt affection) and is infinitely different (in that it is based upon an ever deepening relationship). God’s love as an indivisible part of his being cannot be understood fully by the finite mind. Man’s love is like God’s, but God’s love is not like man’s. This is important for the believer to understand because it helps them to maintain their understanding of the difference between God and man. There is a huge difference between our natures that must always be at the forefront of our minds when thinking about our relationship to one another.

A Theology of the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility: (III) Impassibility and Christology by Charles J. Rennie and Stefan T. Lindblad

Impassibility is most thoroughly discussed when one seeks to understand the nature of Christ in relation to his sufferings. I must admit, it is in the incarnation the doctrine of impassibility is most difficult to understand. We know Christ suffered. He is called the suffering servant, in Hebrews, it is made clear Jesus suffers as a man, the crucifixion in its beautiful horror is clearly an example of suffering. But how can Christ suffer and be a person of the Godhead? The answer lies in the Formula of Chalcedon.

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the Godbearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures, being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

That’s certainly a mouthful, but it shows how Christ, as both fully God and fully man, can suffer in his humanity, yet remain impassible in his divinity. It was this challenge, the challenge of the incarnation, that made me wonder about the viability of the doctrine of impassibility, but linking the issue to the hypostatic union sweeps away all the seeming disparities.

Thoughts

The trouble we have in trying to understand God is that we want to imagine him as a superman rather than a completely different being. All our language forces us to demystify God and make him lower than what he is. This is done by necessity as he is so far over us there is no way for us to speak of him as he truly is. We simply do not have the language, senses, or intellect to give him his due. So, when we look at the text of the Bible we see God as he has made himself known and not God in his fullness. Moses wanted to see God but was only allowed a muted glimpse of his glory. He glowed afterward. Because he is so different from us we cannot make the mistake of limiting his affections to those of man. Man changes in his demeanor and feelings, but God does not. His emotions are static and he perfectly experiences them. Our emotions are a mere shadow of his own.

 

Baines, Ronald S., Richard C. Barcellos, James P. Butler, Stefan T. Lindblad, James M. Renihan eds. Confessing the Impassible God: The Biblical, Classical, & Confessional Doctrine of Divine Impassibility. (Palmdale, CA: RBAP, 2015).

Nov 4, 2016

In Georgia, the internet only comes with one speed: rotary. Justin and Martin discuss the human rights violations of slow upload speeds, having to log in at restaurants, and Starbuck's poor wifi. After that series of complaints they explore the exegesis of Christian latte sippers in the news, wondering why they even know about these clowns. They also talk about when it's appropriate to begin playing Christmas music, amateur beard month, and pedicures for men. This episode is jammed packed with Christmas tree shaped Reece's Peanutbutter Cups and joy. Be sure to share it, but only in person by writing our web address on a piece of napkin.

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